July 2014
Monday, July 07, 2014
The Beauty of Nature: Ladybug Life Cycle
If you follow my other blog, “Spotting Ladybugs” (michellekarene.com/default.php?content=blog&sid=6), you know that I am a fan of ladybugs and other beautiful creatures of nature. I like ladybugs, in particular, because they are a good insect and help protect the flowers and trees. They are also named after Our Lady (see www.ladybug-life-cycle.com/ladybug-facts.html), a big plus in my book.

Ladybugs are beautiful! Like butterflies, they go through a metamorphosis from a crawling spider-like larva to a flying spotted beetle. Ladybugs go through four stages during their life: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

My kids and I had the pleasure of observing ladybugs at the different stages of their life cycle right in our front yard.

We found lots of eggs attached to the underside of maple and crepe myrtle leaves. Newly hatched larvae, which resembled itty-bitty black spiders, clustered together where they hatched. As the larvae grew, they elongated and gained a orangish-yellow stripe across their back. We found a couple of leaves with motionless caterpillar-looking creatures with black spots. The black spots were the giveaway that we had found a pupa. Within a week, the pupa had become adult ladybugs. The adults started out a dull yellowish-orange, but soon the tree was full of red spotted ladybugs.

My kids and I had great fun spotting and taking pictures of the ladybugs at the different stages. I hope you enjoying seeing the beauty of nature as much as we did.

For some more interesting facts of ladybugs, check out www.ladybuglady.com/index.htm

What is your favorite critter in nature? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Ladybug Life Cycle

Ladybug Eggs

Newly Hatched Ladybug Larvae

Ladybug Larvae

Growing Ladybug Larvae

Ladybug Larva (with newly hatched larvae)

Ladybug Pupa

New Adult Ladybug

Adult Ladybug
Posted by Michelle
Monday, July 14, 2014
Summertime Fun: An Interview with My Kids
In summer when my girls want to be outside, but the day is too hot and humid to play in the sun for long, activities are confined to shady spots or the garage (unless we are at the pool). They hula hoop, color with chalk, paint, mold with clay, play “school,” or beg to toss water balloons.

Some days, however, the heat and humidity are just too much for them. We are far from a pineapple water fountain and beach breeze to cool us off. All I hear is, “I just can’t think of anything.” On these days, the scientist in me takes over, and a round of questioning ensues so I can figure out something to appease them.

This week I took the process one step further. When my girls couldn’t think of anything to do, I set a chair in front of me, and we played “interview.” Over the years, I have asked my children about their likes and dislikes. (I like to see how their thinking evolves as they learn new things.) This time was no different, and my questions revolved around their “favorites.”

My girls were excited to have their time in the chair. Each one happy to give me their opinion. My 5-year-old even brought her own pad and paper (like Mommy had), pondered the question with a pen to her temple, and then wrote out her responses.

After my first ten questions, they were ready for more. Then, my 7-year-old turned the tables and asked me the questions while I sat in the “interview” chair. The girls had lots of fun trying to guess my answers.

So, the next time you hear ““I just can’t think of anything,” I highly recommend interviewing your children and then let them interview you….good family fun for all!

For those of you who are curious, here are the girl’s and my responses to “What is your favorite…”

1) …color?

7yr: Blue—no —light blue
5yr: Purple
3yr: Pink
ME: Carolina blue

2) …food?

7yr: I have multiple different foods, but if I could pick one, out of all, it would be watermelon.
5yr: Mexican
3yr: Peaches
ME: Italian

3) …dessert?

7yr: Anything I like
5yr: Lots of things
3yr: A lot of lollipops…that are pink.
ME: Apple pie a la mode

4) …thing to do inside?

7yr: Playing
5yr: Play with my barbies…I mean play the cupcake game
3yr: Play with my toys
ME: Puzzles and reading a book

5) …thing to do outside?

7yr: Playing…jumping on the trampoline
5yr: Swim
3yr: Play on my bike
ME: Take a walk

6) …beverage?

7yr: Lemonade
5yr: Lemonade
3yr: Pink lemonade
ME: Coffee and red wine

7) …subject in school?

7yr: Specials (i.e., art, P.E., computers)
5yr: Global investigations (i.e., collaborative learning)
3yr: I don’t go to school
ME: Math

8) …animal?

7yr: Hmm…sharks
5yr: Cats
3yr: Umm…pink pig
ME: Monkeys

9) …movie?

7yr: Star Wars
5yr: The Lego Movie
3yr: Umm….Frozen
ME: I don’t have one…I like too many

10) …name? (if they could name a pet or something like that)

7yr: Lovely
5yr: Speeka
3yr: Dora
ME: Bergen

11) …book?

7yr: Chapter books…no one in particular
5yr: Disney books
3yr: A pink book that has all pink ponies with pink people (Do you know the name?) NO (I don’t either…guess it’s time to start writing.)
ME: Yet again too many to name just one, but the first book I loved was RIVER GOD by Wilbur Smith

What do your kids like to play on a hot summer day? What are your kid’s favorites? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Posted by Michelle
Monday, July 28, 2014
The Path We Walk
Inspiration hits me at random times—a stranger’s comment overheard as I stroll to my table at a local restaurant, the way the moon looks as I drag the trash can to the curb, my daughter’s thoughts about her wacky dream, a misunderstood request…the list goes on.

Last week, the photo to the left of my eldest daughter walking with her cousin along a mountain trail outside of Salt Lake City inspired me. Both kids were three at the time. When I saw it, I so wanted to be the little angel sitting on my daughter’s shoulder and listening to the conversation between the two. I imagined comments like, “Check out this rock,” “Eww, look at this weird flower,” “I bet I can walk faster than you,” or “Race you to the top.”

More than the conversation, the photo inspired the thought that the journey along this trail was more fun for my daughter because her cousin walked with her. He is, after all, the “silliest” cousin.

This past week on vacation, this image of my daughter crossed my mind when my husband and I found ourselves caught in a rainstorm in calf deep water that flooded the beach roads. If I had been alone, walking the road at midnight would have been scary and creepy. However, with my husband’s hand in mine, I found myself laughing at how silly we looked trudging through the mirky water. I felt like a big kid running through rain puddles (albeit a large puddle).

The image also brings to mind quotes about the path we walk through life:

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way! from “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss;

“During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you” from “Footprints” by unknown author.

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” gives me hope that I will succeed, and “Footprints” reminds me that I am never truly alone. I am grateful for both!

Seeing my first published work of fiction, my short story “Magnolia Fall” in the 14th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition, in print this week reinforced these thoughts. My journey as a writer would not have been as enjoyable without my family and friends who have walked the path up my mountain with me and with whom I can share each success.

Thank you to all my family and friends for sharing your life and walking, even if only for a short while, with me…and thank you to God who has carried me through the harder times.

What inspires you? Who do you like to walk with? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Related Books

Posted by Michelle